Sustainable Sex?

I have a number of friends and family members with very different beliefs and lifestyles from mine. Although this causes me a fair amount of anxiety regarding my interactions with them and finding the proper balance between presenting challenges and maintaining loving discourse, I generally view it as a privilege to have the opportunity to be exposed to different points of view. It is vitally important to me to continually examine my views, and the regular challenges they present, even when I’m not exactly in the mood, keep me on my toes.

Today, a piece from The Hipster Conservative came across my feed. In it, Marc Barnes makes an argument for what he calls “Sustainable Sex”. He makes some interesting points about modern, western, sexual culture. Surprisingly, I don’t entirely disagree with the problems he highlights. His comments regarding the role of pornography in creating an environment in which many men would rather jerk off than engage with a real partner are mostly in line with my own.

Pornography and subsequent masturbation have set an impossibly high standard for women. Men have seen hundreds of fake-breasted, airbrushed, aroused-to-the-point-of-myocardial-infarction pixels, all contorted into positions that would make an Olympic gymnast proud — before they have lain with an actual, warm-blooded woman. As Naomi Wolf noted in her article “The Porn Myth”:

Here is what young women tell me on college campuses when the subject comes up: They can’t compete, and they know it. For how can a real woman—with pores and her own breasts and even sexual needs of her own (let alone with speech that goes beyond “More, more, you big stud!”)—possibly compete with a cybervision of perfection, downloadable and extinguishable at will, who comes, so to speak, utterly submissive and tailored to the consumer’s least specification?

For most of human history, erotic images have been reflections of, or celebrations of, or substitutes for, real naked women. For the first time in human history, the images’ power and allure have supplanted that of real naked women. Today, real naked women are just bad porn.

I agree that the ubiquity of porn is causing problems in our sexual culture. Every time I walk past the recently installed Hustler store in my neighborhood, I look at the increasingly ridiculous sex theater costumes in the display windows and shake my head. None of it looks remotely sexy to me. Are people really so bored with their partners that they have to put all this strange decoration on them in order to make sex exciting again? When did we stop looking at each other and actually seeing the person standing there? When did we start seeing each other as tokens in our own personal playgrounds, whose continued presence in our lives depends on their utility in furthering our attempts at fantasy fulfillment? Continue reading